When you leave the Work….Part One

The other morning, while praying, a former sister worker came to mind which hadn’t crossed my thoughts in a while. She hasn’t been out of the Work very long, just a couple of years. We never labored on the same Staff but the few times I did see her through the years, there was a close bond with her.

Pleasing God is much easier than pleasing people.

Thinking of her out of the Work now, I couldn’t help realize how relieved she must be (like me) to finally be “out”. Away from the ceaseless striving be good enough she endured for over 20 years. The ceaseless striving to please people, co-workers and overseers that never thought she was good enough. When all along, God was more than pleased with her. Pleasing God is much easier than pleasing people. What a relief it must be to her now, wherever she is and whatever she is doing, to just be able to be herself and to be free from the endless expectations of people. To have her own nest. To be able to decorate her apartment or home, to cook, and nurture herself. To be normal. To rest, recover, regroup. To have things the same for a change instead of constantly changing. To sleep in the same bed with the same pillow with the same noises in the house. To not have to live out of suitcase. (I HATE living out of suitcase now even if it is only for a weekend.) To not be confined to spending most of your time in a bedroom. To be the hostess not always the guest. Thinking of her brought back all the physical and emotional blessings I remember enjoying so much as a result of no longer being in the work.

It takes much longer to get free from all the psychological and spiritual ties; because making the decision to leave the Work is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make in your Worker life. That one decision sets so much in motion for you within that group. Way too much. It shouldn’t be that traumatic. We didn’t take a “vow” that we would stay our whole lives after all. Yes, we purposed to do that, but sometimes you just can’t stay and truth be told, there are many who perhaps should leave but never do.

I will always have a special place in my heart for anyone who was once in the Work and for whatever reason, is no longer there. They will always have the worker “label” on them within the group and will usually be considered a 2nd class citizen after they leave. They will be misunderstood by most BUT, will be so much freer and happier I can almost guarantee. They now will only be in bondage if they choose to be.

Some have been put out of the Work by their overseers. My heart breaks for them and I can only begin to imagine the feelings that result from this. The shock, shame, pain, embarrassment, fear, isolation and panic. This isn’t something I experienced but I imagine it would be somewhat like getting fired from a job (just sort of). For those who do experience the ordeal of being put out of the Work, I would think that once you get over the initial horrible feelings there would be a relief that at least those men would no longer be able to dictate how to live your life. I remember very well what a huge relief it was for me thinking that when I left a few brother workers in particular would NEVER AGAIN have any power over my life.

Leaving the Work you get very little, if any, financial help from the ministry. Unless you have a family who is able to help, it can be very difficult to survive. I don’t remember how much money I had in my wallet when I came home but a year later, I received $150 from my former overseer. This after nearly 22 years of service! But I’m afraid the attitude of many is like one of the local “friends” here told his non-professing brother, “Well, she went in with nothing and she deserves to come out with nothing!” One couple in this field where I live helped me out when I came home. (I personally think the group should be ashamed of themselves how they treat former workers.) I have heard from workers in other states who received much more financial help and I am very glad for that.

Anyway, back to my sister worker friend. I would love to sit down with her for a cup of coffee and just share our hearts. She will always be in mine. She suffered too much for too long and yet she had some really happy times there too I know. She deserves the very best now and I know she loves Jesus now more than she ever has before.

There is life after the Work, yes ma’am there is… And it is good!

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10 thoughts on “When you leave the Work….Part One

  1. Darla, I know we have talked about this already but I wanted to add my thoughts about what you went through for your readers. Leaving the work meant the end to so many intimate relationships. Not only are there many friends that look on ex-workers as a failure but the remaining ones feel you have betrayed them somehow by leaving their ranks. It puts a chink in the relationship and it can never be what it once was. Then there are people (like me) who look on workers as untouchable as far as forming close relationships with and so it’s hard to make new close connections with people among whom you are now living.

    I have had the privilege of knowing and getting close to Darla for 12+ years and know it hasn’t been an easy road, from the time she 1st left the work or now since she has left the meeting church. She has been pretty much rejected by most all of her former close friends. They would say, “well she chose to leave us.” So is being true to the fellowship a criteria for keeping our friends? The close relationships she retained are those that loved her though it all and stayed true to their bond. God has also brought many new friends into her circle and for that she is deeply thankful.

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    • My dear friend Sherlene,
      You have been one of my ROCKS since I came home having just left the Work and then through the whole process of leaving the meetings. I pray everyone in this process has someone like you in their life. You have been a blessing from day one. I give thanks for you ALL THE TIME.

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  2. Reading all you have shared of leaving the work, and especially thinking of the former sister worker, I can not begin to enter into the struggle, you must have endured, I am finding it a struggle in my small corner, but for you having been in the front line as it were!! And to come through with so much to offer others, God is truly reaching out to the likes of me,through you. Thank you.

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      • I was 14 when I professed, today I turned 58, 44 years in the fellowship, and only now am I experiencing a hunger for Gods word and to really know what it means to have him within me, not me looking up, and he looking down.
        I have always been up for a challenge! And I know the decisions I am making now are the greatest challenges I have ever faced, but, love casts out fear, and knowing Gods love will break every barrier down, the main thing is letting God show me when and how to do his will.
        I love the thought that deep within our unique personal journey, we have a loving Father who is patient, kind and loves us.

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  3. You know, Darla, your comments about leaving the Work just add to the many reasons I’m so glad to have left the fellowship 13 years ago. I often wondered what burdens of the heart the workers were bearing; …burdens that were so seldom expressed verbally. The ministry seemed to be so adept at presenting such a ‘happy’ front but likely any burdensome feelings any of the workers might have felt were internalized with a lot of guilt. The deception of bondage takes many forms. The 22 years you spent in the ministry perhaps seem to be wasted years to you now, but through it all God’s plan for your life is being worked out in beautiful ways as a result.

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  4. Does the woman who made the comment about you going in to the work with nothing know that the workers give away all that they do have before they can go in the work? Really you probably did have something before you went in, it saddens me that workers are treated so poorly when they leave the worker life and some struggle to find employment and a way to provide for themselves. I pray you will reach out to that former worker who has been on your mind, you may be God’s blessing to her right now. The friends and worker world is very small, I’m sure you can find her! Thanks for sharing again.

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    • It was a man who made the comment about me going in the work with nothing etc….not that it matters but in a sense, it does. Thank you for seeking to understand. I will definitely consider trying to track that former sister down.

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